Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Surviving the Deadly Attack of Anger

In my very distant past, I carried a gun and a badge. The streets were mean then but meaner now. I have had men try to kill me. These were life and death struggles. To survive, I needed to respond with superior tactics to each threat. Those responses allowed me to go home to my wife and family each day thankful to be alive. 

These kinds of life and death situations were not limited to my time as a cop. A few times as a missionary on foreign soil, I had the same experiences. I learned something from each of those encounters. Anger was not my best survival response. Anger freezes a person and makes them a stationary target. Had I stopped and responded in anger, not in the superior tactics of my training both as a cop and as a missionary, I would not be writing these words to you today.

Unresolved anger at the inequities of life, politics or the insensitivity of religious institutions can kill you emotionally and spiritually if you let the emotion of anger direct your response. Adversaries know that if they can get you to respond in anger, the unrighteous kind, you will provide a predictable response and become a stationary target. In that response, you become vulnerable to a premeditated ambush of your heart and your credibility before the culture.

On the mean streets of our nation, I learned that superior training, tactics, and equipment gave me the survival edge in each of my encounters. My survival was dependent on me drawing from the well of training provided in the police academy, the street smarts of my training officer and the grit of experiencing real life on the street. The same can be said for spiritual training that is provided by mature people who help us rise to a place of maturity beyond the base response of our human emotion.

If you have become angry and anger is your first and only response to a challenge of your ideologies, you make yourself vulnerable to the ambush and schemes of our spiritual adversary – the devil and his demonic allies. Many times these dark spirits lurk behind the mask of another angry person inciting the unresolved issues in your life that is producing your anger. It is like a cop giving the bad guy his gun and getting shot with his own weapon. It makes no sense. 

An angry response can never settle these arguments because in the most complicated issues of life there are no real answers apart from love.  When the next anger-producing situation comes deploy your greatest spiritual weapon in response – love. Only love has the power to repel the attack of darkness. And only love has the power to keep you alive on the mean streets of spiritual conflict.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Threshold of Simplicity

Yesterday, Jan and I had a meal with some good friends from the East Coast. They are involved in a ministry that trains young leaders. As usual, our conversation was filled with Kingdom strategy and planning.

During our conversation, I saw an image. It was the threshold of a doorway. A threshold is that part of the door frame you step over to enter a room. This threshold had been undone from the doorframe. I saw my friend holding the wooden threshold just in front of his face as he walked forward into the next season of his life and ministry. He was using the presence of the threshold to evaluate what he allowed to enter his life. I shared the word with my friends then I realized it was a word for all of us.

A threshold is a spiritual and relational barrier to the interior of our lives. We are in charge of what crosses its defining line. I saw my friend walking through his life engaging relationships and decisions while he held the threshold. He was evaluating both his existing relationships and new ones currently being offered. As he conversed with people, he held the wooden threshold right in front of his face. While he thoughtfully considered what was being offered he tested each new offering to see if it could cross the threshold of simplicity. If what was being offered would complicate his life or his faith, he did not allow it to cross the threshold.

Today, pick up your threshold of simplicity and hold it in front of your face as you listen to what other people want to bring into your life that could derail the simplicity of your life and mission. Ask God to give you the right words to speak to those who are wanting to cross your threshold and establish their presence in your life. The power and impact God wants to release through your life will require that you stay focused and simple. You are the only one who is able to determine what crosses the threshold of your life. Choose wisely.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Loving a Lonely and Distressed Culture

On Sunday morning, I took a bike ride before church. I love the longer daylight hours of summer. They afford me an opportunity to do things the dark mornings of winter do not allow. I was cruising through our small town and felt impressed to take a few turns I don’t normally take to work my way back home. It was after one of those turns that I saw the woman. She looked to be in her late 70’s. She had the small of her back up against a building. She was leaning over with her hands placed on her knees for support. Her head hung low. She looked to be in distress.

I turned around and rode back to the woman and asked, “Are you OK?” She said she was having chest pains and her arm was hurting. Knowing these were the signs of a heart attack I offered to call 911. She said that was not necessary as she had bouts with angina and was familiar with the pain. I offered again to call 911 and again she said she was just uncomfortable and it would pass. I decided to stay with her for a few minutes to make sure something more serious did not develop. We talked some more and during our conversation found out she was a tourist from Florida. She left her family at the hotel to take a morning walk when the pain started.

As I got ready to leave, I asked if I could accompany her back to her hotel or at least give her my cell phone in case she needed to call for assistance. She said thank you and told me that was not necessary. I asked if I could pray for her. I prayed and then said goodbye and rode home.

As I pedaled away from that dear lady, I was overcome with emotion. Here was a person in a life-crisis all alone leaning up against a building in a strange town with no one near who knew her or cared for her. To be alone in a time of need is a fearful experience. 

While riding home and processing the encounter and my subsequent emotion, the Lord reminded me this is one of our most important ministries as followers of Jesus. Individuals and entire segments of our culture are leaning up against lonely walls in deep distress. We need to notice their pain and suffering and offer the love of God. God's love can be expressed by simply asking, “Are you OK?” The question tells people we see them. In the moment we notice someone, they are no longer alone. 

I was able to experience the beauty of the encounter on Sunday morning by allowing the Spirit to direct me home on a path I don’t normally take. I sometimes think our routines of life get in our way more than we realize. On a predictable and familiar path, we can miss what is waiting for us one street over from our normal pattern.

As I rode away in the cool morning air, I said, “Thank you, Lord, for letting me be part of what just happened.” I felt the beauty and clarity that comes from being bathed in the presence of God. When I got home, I said to Jan, “I just went to church.”



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wheelbarrow BBQ

My father was a contractor. He built houses. Most of my summers were filled with manual labor on his job sites. My brother and I were my father’s backhoe. I spent many a hot summer day down in a ditch with a pick and shovel.

Our crew was a constantly changing group made up of men who had recently arrived from Mexico and white guys from the wrong side of the cultural tracks in our community, all who needed a job and a fresh start. We were a unique blend of humanity. After a long hot week, Friday was a day that carried the hope of a paycheck and a couple of days off.

Every so often my father would surprise his work crew on a Friday. He would tell the men he was making lunch. About 10:30 he would leave the job site and reappear with groceries. He rolled out a wheelbarrow and lined up bricks to elevate a BBQ grill off the bottom of the wheelbarrow. then he would dump in some briquettes and start a fire. In a few minutes, steaks, Van Camp beans and bread would be prepared. The smell of the BBQ put smiles on our weary faces. As lunch was served, dad would pull out a couple of six-packs of ice-cold Olympia beer and hand them out to the men. It looked like the scene from the Shawshank Redemption where the inmates were drinking a beer on the prison rooftop. After the men had their fill of steak dad would hand out their paychecks and call it a day and send them home.

Around those lunches, I heard the stories of the lives of these unique men. They became more than just my co-laborers. They became a human with value and a story. Everyone who worked for Charlie Elkins loved him because they knew he came from a similar rough beginning as the one they were currently navigating. When they shared his lunch they were also sharing his life.

I learned a lot about life from my father. He always saw the overlooked people, the ones in need, the marginalized. He called them out of the shadows and affirmed them by giving them a chance and a job. Maybe what we need in our nation in this moment of our history are more experiences like a wheelbarrow BBQ where people from different life experiences and ethnicities take the time to find out that we are all the same in the most important ways. And in that discovery give people something they deserve as a fellow human being, an affirmation, and recognition of their value in our life.

A New Prophetic Movement

The Lord said to me there is a new prophetic movement emerging. These are people who are not impressed with what has become of the most visible parts of the prophetic movement. Behind the bright advertisements, the titles and the garish flash of unleashed promotion stands a new generation of prophets and people who want to explore the depths of this profound gift. God is raising them up to change the face of the prophetic movement so that the message of God’s love is able to impact its intended audience in ever-increasing circles of influence.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spiritual Gunfights

Recently, I read an obscure but interesting piece of data. A report in 2011 from the General Accounting Office (GAO) reveals that for every insurgent killed in the wars in Iraq and Afganistan 250,000 rounds are fired. This included both training and actual combat. That rate of fire resulted in 1.8 billion rounds of small arms ammunition being used every year. That is a lot of bullets flying through the air.

As I read those surprising statistics, I thought of spiritual warfare and the effectiveness of our prayers, blessings and prophetic declarations. Every time we utter a prayer, release a blessing or make a declaration a casualty takes place in the kingdom of darkness.  Over time this accumulated rate of spiritual fire weakens the enemy’s position to such a degree that a breakthrough takes place.

Each time you declare God’s heart over an impossible situation, bless an enemy or pray into the life of a person or place in the culture where people are held in bondage a hit takes place – a hit of love. Every spiritual round of love we fire in the name of Jesus has an intended target even though we may not fully have the situation lined up in our sights.Our prayers, blessings, and declarations are striking targets we only see in part as we exercise our faith. 

When you fire from an obscure and unnoticed position never forget that you are part of a much larger conflict. We don't fight these battles alone. We engage the enemy as a global army. We are deadly accurate and lethal to the works of darkness because God is directing our spiritual rounds toward specific targets in a battle much that is larger than we could ever imagine. Your shots are having a devastating impact on the works of darkness. Your rate of fire matters. Keep it up. 



Friday, August 11, 2017

When God Blinds Us

There are times when God will blind us to what is taking place around us in order to speak to us. He does this so we will rely on another reality – the unseen and unexplored world of faith.

We live in a time and place where many of our decisions are based on available physical and relational evidence. We study what we perceive to be our reality and respond accordingly. This creates a form of decision-making that does not require faith. In the end, we develop human-sourced strategies that produce outcomes that do not involve a miraculous intervention because human intellect and logic have taken a predominant position in our lives.

The Lord told Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you” (Exodus 19:9). The word, “thick”, caught my attention. This is a thickness as in “I can’t see my hand in front of my face” kind of thickness.  In the Hebrew language, the word is also translated as “dense”.  It is used to describe the thickness of a warrior’s shield. It is an impenetrable kind of thickness.

The thick cloud completely blinded Moses to his surroundings. He could not see through the cloud to determine his next step. God did this with a purpose in mind. God wanted Moses alone with Him so Moses would hear only his voice. The Lord did the same thing on the road to Damascus when He blinded Paul for three days. He does the same thing in our lives from time to time when we can’t seem to find our way forward.

You and I do not need physical evidence to find our way forward. We only need to hear the voice of God. If you can no longer clearly “see” the circumstances of your life with clarity or you cannot find any trustworthy data on which to base your decision, you still have the voice of God. His instruction to you will not be sourced from the limitations of the natural world. It will be instruction and direction birthed from the realm of eternity and imported to Earth to be received by faith.

When God spoke to Moses from within the cloud, He had a captive audience. From that place of vulnerability, Moses received instruction for a nation when a nation could not comprehend a solution. As Moses interacted with God in that thick cloud the people heard a man speaking to God who was solely dependent on God for his direction. As a result, the people were able to trust Moses. What you do in your personal cloud of revelation will not only provide you and those you love with a way forward, it will also create a level of trust not available in any other circumstance. The thick cloud in which you find yourself is a really good place. Trust the Voice.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aware of the Presence

John Wimber once said, “If you’re not aware of the Presence you will never be aware of the Power.” The greatest thing a pastor can do when a congregation gathers is to help the people acknowledge the presence of God in the assembly. Without this acknowledgment and a subsequent invitation, the program and plans for the day will displace the manifestations of the Spirit that were assigned to the gathering to bring healing and freedom. In the end, no matter how many religious bells and whistles we have we will send the people away without an encounter with the Living God. That will produce a lifeless and powerless expression of God's Kingdom.

One of the greatest needs in the Church today is the acknowledgment of God’s presence. The defining line between churches that have a significant cultural impact or not, is the value they place on the presence of God. This is not the presence of God that all believers carry. It is the manifest presence of God that is released when engaged by our faith, whether individually or corporately. It is a tangible encounter with God that produces miraculous evidence of His presence. 

Today, above all else, cultivate an awareness of God's presence as you go about your day - in your car as you drive to your next appointment, when you shop at your favorite store or when you interact with people in casual conversation. Train yourself in this and the next time you gather with other believers you will be so aware of God’s presence that the lesser imitations of religious activity will not have the power to dominate and displace what God planned to accomplish. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When Life Takes A Dangerous Turn

When life takes a dangerous turn people do not want a Barney Fife of Mayberry version of a police department, a spineless government or friends who turn their backs on them in a time of threat or impending conflict. The right for people to live a peaceful and productive life is the desire of God for all nations. This was not a government idea it was God’s idea. God put governments in place to ensure that our peace and safety is a protected human right. Until our peace and safety are interrupted we can create illusions about the reality in which we live and begin to actually believe our illusions about what constitutes real life. Each generation not affected by the horror of war or acts of terror must grapple with this issue.

Once, I was removed from my car and held at gunpoint by rogue police officers in a third world nation. Another time I had to run a roadblock late at night on a dark mountain road in the West Indies when thieves tried to rob me.  Years late in another ministry assignment, Jan and I along with other believers found ourselves surrounded by 30,000 violent demonstrators in a former Communist Bloc nation and had to be escorted to safety by the secret police. All of these and other fearful encounters I have not mentioned took place in situations when I was able to return to a nation where freedom and security are the norm. While these terrifying situations were unfolding the sweetness of liberty and safety back home became a distant and fading hope. My only real hope in those moments of terror was in God. I was out of reach of the protections granted to me in the United States but I was not out of reach of God’s protective hand.

The world has always been a perilous place for most of its inhabitants. Bad things happen to good people – all the time. The quality of our lives is always better when people and institutions are in place to protect us from evil and at times, from our naive version of reality.


When it is all said and done, every follower of Christ must ultimately trust God for their deliverance. When terror, war, and violence visit our lives the adrenal-like dose of reality that surges through our being in those dark encounters will wake us from our slumbering version of reality. In those troubling moments the peace and security that comes from knowing God will become our greater reality and our only hope. You can trust God in all things and at all times. He will never leave you or forsake you even when life takes a dangerous turn.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Frog in the Garden

The Word of God was not given to us to become an overly-dissected book cut up in such a way that it proves our pet theology or gives us the winning point in a forensic debate setting. The Word of God is a living love letter. It was written to humanity to reveal the love of God. Human foolishness and sin do fill some of the pages along with the consequences of those choices but they are temporary interruptions to the narrative of God’s love.

In high school, I took a biology class in my junior year. One afternoon as we entered class it was the day of the dreaded frog dissection. In front of each student was a dead frog splayed out on a cutting board. Scalpels lay beside each dead frog. For the next hour, we were directed by our teacher how to cut open the frog to discover from his interior region the position and function of his organs. You could hear nervous laughter and an occasional gagging sound throughout the exercise. Some students stood in a weird silence as they did the cutting wondering if this was the first step in becoming a mass murderer. It was a brutal event.

As I cut into my frog, I remembered back in my yard at home there lived a real frog in his natural element. He (I am assuming it was a he) was fully intact, his guts securely in place as he hopped and croaked with freedom through my mother’s pansy patch. I liked that frog much more than this poor little guy who was enduring the cold and impersonal incisions of my scalpel.

If we are not careful we can end up dissecting Scripture like a dead frog. Scripture was never given to us to be dissected to prove our denominational statement of faith or our pet theology. The truth contained in its pages was not given to become a gotcha moment at Starbucks when we “win” a theological argument. It was given to us to reveal the heart of God and in the process, the condition of ours.

Don’t get me wrong. Study Scripture. Be a diligent student but study to discover the heart of God. Use that focus as the primary motivator for your study. I is a form of discovery that will leave no one gagging in the process. 

If we could spend more time in the garden of life instead of the impersonal laboratory of religion we will be able to show the world the power of the Living Word instead of a dead and dissected substitute of the real thing.

Later in the day, after biology class, I went home to my mom’s pansy patch looking for Mr. Frog to apologize to him for what I just did to one of his relatives. I didn't find him. I think he was hiding.


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Sad World of Anonymous Critics

Each of us will encounter an occasional anonymous critic. If you open your mouth and express your opinion you will have someone who has no relationship with you pull out their fillet knife of correction and attempt to cut you down to their size. These are people whose only platform for criticism is behind the walls of cowardice trapped in an enclosure created by fear. The Internet has produced an army of these critics whose anonymity is actually a stimulant for a sad and isolated life. 

When these critics send me their words of disdain and disgust (I had one this morning), I do three things.

1. I read their comments. I read them because I could have missed something and even though the form of communication was flawed, I still need to be large enough emotionally to put on my big boy pants and take an honest look.

2. As I read what many times are harsh and dismissive words, I realize on the other end of the comment is a real person, broken just like me. When I hit the delete button on my blog or block someone on social media, the person on the other end is a person loved by God.  If I forget that point, I will lose a bit of my humanity.

3. Finally, I actually say out loud a blessing over the person. I bless them because I have not been empowered to carry the fruit of their judgment in my own heart as an unresolved offense. The blessing removes the weight of their words and sets me free.

After you have done these three things move on. Never park at any criticism especially the criticism of a fear-bound anonymous critic. Each of us carries a slice of a much greater revelation than our limited view contains. This applies to all of us - the critics and the criticized alike. If we can learn to live together in open and honest conversations maybe we would show the world a brighter hope than the tarnished one we sometimes present.



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Your Hidden Strength

You are stronger than your circumstances reveal. You are better than the opinion other people have about you. There is more going on under the surface of your life than a casual observation can reveal.

In 1996, an athletic clothing line was developed by a frustrated college football player. His product idea was conceived when he became tired of having to regularly change his sweat-soaked cotton t-shirt during multiple football practices. The new product was able to keep athletes cool, dry and comfortable in the most brutally hot conditions. Starting in his grandmother’s basement he created his first synthetic undergarment and traveled up and down the East Coast selling his wares from the trunk of his car. Today, Under Armor is a multi-million dollar business listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Opposing teams withered under the hot conditions of summer football practice. The wearers of Under Armor were able to press through the heat of practice to outperform their opponents.

You wear spiritual Under Armor. Under the outwardly visible circumstance of your life rests the armor of God’s Spirit. It has been placed out of natural sight requiring you to draw on its protection in the heat of spiritual conflict. God gave this armor to you to stand as a protective layer around the most vulnerable part of your life – your heart. The writer of Proverbs correctly noted, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).


Today, walk forward into whatever comes your way knowing the armor of God is ready to guard your heart if you are willing to engage its protection. No assault, no shallow flattery nor any personal lapse in understanding your true identity can penetrate this protective layer if you choose to believe what God has declared about your life. His opinion is your greatest armor. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Arrival

A beautiful thing just happened. I had finished praying when it felt as though someone walked into the room. It was like that feeling you experience when you have your eyes closed and a person silently enters a room and displaces the air around you creating a sense of motion.  No one was physically present in the room with me when this happened. It was a movement created in the unseen world of the Spirit but felt in the natural.

I wondered why I had just experienced such a unique sensation. Immediately I knew the answer. The Lord was reminding me that upon arrival the answers to our prayers will begin to displace what opposes their manifestation and mission. Some of these answers can actually be a felt experience.

God allowed me to feel the arrival of an answered prayer to build my faith for a subject close to my heart. He also allowed me to experience that arrival to let you know this happens each time you pray in accordance with God’s will and from the desires of your heart. For reasons not always known to us, some prayers have arrival times that can appear like delays but are not. It is simply a timing issue. As you prayed, God was orchestrating something much greater than you realized and He needed a measure of time to bring all the elements into play before the final answer arrived. 

When the answer to your prayer comes nothing will be able to stand in its way. It will arrive with authority, so much authority that even the natural environment will reflect its arrival.



Friday, August 4, 2017

A Fruitful Rest

This morning as Jan and I took communion, a phrase was spoken during our prayers, "May we be fruitful in rest". That one sentence became the core of our time together. Fruitfulness is different than productivity. Fruitfulness produces a harvest from a place of abiding. Productivity produces a harvest from a place of human effort. Rest is not a permission slip for sloth. It is a proactive faith - an invitation to a life of peace.

Today, if you find yourself in a difficult situation that is producing unneeded drama and tension, walk away from it for a moment and pray, "Lord, help me find a fruitful rest in this uncomfortable place." In that moment of disconnect invite the rest of God to invade your thinking. A seed of faith will then begin to sprout in the place of your abiding. It will contain the answer that has eluded you and caused the current unrest in your soul. A harvest of fruitfulness will be released that the best of your productivity could never produce.

The Sound of Reformation

A reformation has begun in the Church. This reformation will be known historically for the sound it makes – the sound of truth spoken in love. What is coming will be simple, so simple it could be missed if we expect it to create another top-heavy and complicated way of living out our faith.

Major reformation in the Church must take place from time to time in order to restore original truth and to help us keep pace with the expanding revelation of God. It is never a one-time event. A living faith must reform if it is to grow and have a continual Kingdom impact in every sphere of culture.

Most of our thinking about reformation has been influenced by our collective Church history, especially the Protestant Reformation that took place 500 years ago in Europe. (In fact, as I write this, it is the year of the 500th anniversary of that Reformation.) When Jan and I lived in Berlin, Germany, we took several day trips to Wittenberg and stood before the door upon which Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses. I always appreciated Luther’s boldness in proclaiming what he discovered in Scripture: forgotten truths lost to the Church. Luther had to nail his thoughts to the outside of the church door because those on the inside were not yet ready to welcome the Reformation.
     
Luther could not know the long-range outcome of his actions. From where he stood in history, he would experience a great deal of upheaval and backlash. And he didn’t get everything right; he only had snapshots of a much larger picture. But with the revelation Luther possessed, he was able to set in motion the historic Reformation that would change how we see the Church.

Two alignments in the Church have been unfolding over the last several decades. The first is a renewed understanding of our mission in every sphere of culture. The second alignment has been a revisiting of the purpose of the five-fold gifts Jesus gave to the Church to equip each person for the work of ministry.
     
In 1975 two men, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ and Loren Cunningham of Youth with a Mission (YWAM) met in Colorado Springs. Each of them had—independently and while many miles apart—received the same word from the Lord. The word had to do with the spheres of cultural influence and the role of the Church in those spheres. The same word was also given to Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri in Switzerland. Each of these three men began to train thousands of young men and women, who are now in places of leadership within the global Church.
     
During the Colorado Springs meeting, Bright and Cunningham identified the following seven spheres of cultural influence: government, religion, business, education, arts & entertainment, family, and media. Recently, writer-thinkers like Lance Wallnau and Johnny Enlow have unpacked and defined these spheres in greater detail. We now refer to them as the “Seven Mountains.”
     
God is reminding the Church to reconsider the place of her mission in culture. Our voice has an assignment on each of the Seven Mountains. What would it look like to equip and commission the Church to go into every sphere of society and bring a positive influence for change? Some of us thought we were doing just that, but we were mistaken. What if we have been camping on the summit of the mountain of religion, not understanding the greater opportunities that await us on the other six mountains of culture? Take an honest look at our culture. Who is influencing and reforming society? Right now, it is not the Church.

As this reformation unfolds we will also rediscover the simple assignment of the five-fold ministry gifts given by Jesus and listed by Paul in Ephesians 4. These gifts are given for training and equipping the Church for the work of ministry. The five-fold gifts are made up of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. To approach any of the Seven Mountains improperly equipped and without exposure to these gifts is a recipe for failure and irrelevance.
        
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:13 that the ministry of the equipping gifts would continue…

…until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

The Scripture implies that without these five equipping gifts—without their example and instruction—the Church cannot mature and measure up to the full and complete standard Christ has for His Church. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers equip us to do the work of ministry. So, what is the work of ministry we are being equipped to do?
     
I would guess that most of us think this equipping is done to enable people to run local churches, denominations, or other ministries. The five-fold can include that, but to limit our understanding to the mountain of religion at the expense of the other six mountains would be to limit the scope of the Church’s impact on Earth.
     
Paul revealed the result of this equipping in Ephesians. Notice two important words: then and instead:

Then, we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:14-15, emphasis mine).

Here is the primary concept I hope to convey about the nature of this reformation: speaking the truth in love is the primary evidence that we have been equipped and matured as believers. This ability to speak the truth in love within our assignment on a particular mountain of culture is the evidence that we are experiencing the fullness of what it means to follow Jesus.
     
We will hear the sound of reformation when the voice of a matured Church becomes one with the unique frequency of God’s love expressed on the mountains of culture. When this begins to take place, the truth of God’s limitless, all-consuming love will be heard with wonder and amazement in every sphere of society. It will be like the Day of Pentecost when those who came running to the event said, “And we hear these people speaking in our languages about the wonderful things God has done!”
     
What if all the complicated definitions of a five-fold ministry are really about a function—not a style or system? What if these gifts of the Holy Spirit, with their multiple expressions, actually came down to one simple thing: helping equip and train us to know how to speak the truth in love in our unique life-assignment in culture? I’d like to suggest it is that simple.

No one will be left out of this process if they are willing to let their voice be empowered by the breath of the Spirit. This will not be a reformation produced or defined only by professional theologians. It will flow from each of us working and living within each sphere of culture.

Reformers are nailing the demands for transformation to the door of our current expression of the Church. These reformers are not the enemy. They are prophets announcing the way forward. Leave the sanctuary of the status quo and bravely go to the front door of your spiritual experience. Read what the reformers have posted. What they are asking us to consider will reveal our future and eventually, it will become the record of our history.

It is becoming clear to me the next reformation of the Church will have its greatest impact outside our current church structures and institution. The reformation will take place across all the mountains of cultural influence—between people in moments of human interaction in the marketplace, in homes, in city council chambers, in corporate board rooms, in big-box store break rooms, and everyplace where a follower of Jesus walks.

The hallmark of the coming reformation will be simplicity. God is about to downsize the Church to remove the accumulated clutter around our faith in preparation for a return to the supernatural simplicity of our mission. A new sound is about to be heard in each culture on planet Earth. “…suddenly there was a sound from Heaven (Acts 2:2a).